Recognising and Defining Animal Sentience in Legislation: A Framework for Importing Positive Animal Welfare Through the Five Domains Model
(2022) 48(1) Monash University Law Review (Forthcoming)
22 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2021
Date Written: August 25, 2021
Animals are increasingly being recognised as sentient through international treaties and domestic legislation. If explicit recognition is to result in meaningful change, it must be accompanied by a corresponding legislative definition of sentience. We argue that best-practice in assessing the welfare of animals of all species requires that the Five Domains model of animal welfare inform the legislative recognition and definition of animal sentience. This is the leading scientific model of animal welfare and recognises that animals can experience both negative and positive affective states.We propose a definition of sentience that extends current legal responsibilities to not just protect animals from unnecessary and unreasonable negative states but also provide them with opportunities for positive affective states. Finally, we demonstrate how the current legal test for animal welfare compliance can be extended to encompass positive affective states. Reforming law so that is consistent with the Five Domains elevates standards of animal welfare to provide animals under human care with the opportunity for a life enjoyed, not just endured.
Keywords: Animal Welfare, Animal Sentience, Animal Law, Five Domains, Five Freedoms, Positive Animal Welfare Law, Statutory Interpretation
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